January 2 in Twilight Zone History: Remembering writer Charles Beaumont ('The Howling Man') on his birthday

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Jan 2, 2018

Today, January 2, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the birth of legendary genre writer Charles Beaumont, born on this day in 1929.

Next to Rod Serling, Beaumont contributed the most TZ episodes – 22 in all, including "Perchance to Dream," "Long Live Walter Jameson," "The Howling Man," "Long Distance Call," "Dead Man’s Shoes," "Valley of the Shadow," "Miniature," and "Living Doll." A Chicago native, Beaumont reportedly met Serling at a party and told him how much he disliked his live teleplay "The Velvet Alley." Serling was so impressed by his honesty that he was determined to put him on the TZ team.

Like Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont was a voracious writer who often worked on several scripts at once. He moved quickly from short stories to teleplays, and later did features as well (7 Faces of Dr. Lao). 

While Serling dealt with contemporary issues in a fantasy or sci-fi storyline, Beaumont preferred to tell classic ghost stories and tales of the macabre, perhaps influenced by the fact that he grew up in a house with five widowed aunts who enjoyed sharing the peculiar details of their husbands' deaths. Beaumont also loved to travel and was very interested in auto racing, following the international driving circuit.

Charles Beaumont's amazing short story output often appeared in popular anthology collections. 

Sadly, at a very young age he was diagnosed with what we call today Alzheimer's disease, so midway through his tenure as a TZ stalwart, he began to lose the ability to write. Fortunately other writers, like Jerry Sohl and John Tomerlin, stepped in to help Beaumont complete his scripts.

Beaumont passed away in 1967 at the age of 38, but his output as a top writer of The Twilight Zone will live forever.